Player ratings

Analysis and Player Ratings: Union 1-2 Revs

Photo: Paul Rudderow

What had been such a promising week faded quickly as Philadelphia Union returned to their goal-conceding ways in the second half against New England Revolution.

At the end of a three-match week, the Revolution simply had more than the Union could handle down the stretch and the home team’s luck never came. Whether it as CJ Sapong’s missed chances from in close, Bobby Shuttleworth somehow sending a close range Fernando Aristeguieta effort careening off the cross bar, or the Revs clearing back-to-back second half chances off the goal line, the Union could not find a way to see out a result at home.

Not only were the Union exhausted after a home-and-home series with NYCFC, but they also limped into the match, starting three players who only recently returned from injury. Of those three, only Aristeguieta was able to see out the match, with Jim Curtin knowing that Sapong and Chaco Maidana only had 60 minutes of running in their respective legs.

Dissecting a bad goal

Yet, despite conventional wisdom dictating that more energy is spent defending than attacking, the Union continued to sit back after conceding their first half lead. In the 76th minute, however, a comedy of defensive errors put the Union behind. It was a play in which nearly every player on the pitch must raise a hand and accept a portion of the blame. With so many moving parts to this calamitous maneuver, in lieu of trying to explain it en masse, let’s go through the obvious problems leading up to the goal and explain how the Union can make sure the same mistakes don’t happen again.

1. Andrew Wenger: The easiest mistake to pick out. Challenging for the a ball in the air is so critical that it should not bear mentioning. Anyone who has played soccer, at pretty much any level, has heard some version of “It cannot bounce!”. Again: the ball, it simply cannot bounce. Wenger surely knows this, and his error was likely on his mind when he failed to stay involved in the play. There were plenty of mistakes to come, but Wenger’s failure to challenge set the table for everything that followed.

2. Ray Gaddis: No mountain of a man, yet Gaddis is surprisingly reluctant to leave his feet to make a proper aerial challenge. This particular instance was no different, as the 5′ 8″ Diego Fagundez skied over him to win the ball. Additionally, what Gaddis was even doing within 10 yards of the midfield stripe is anybody’s guess. Jim Curtin had called on Brian Carroll to add a second out-and-out defensive midfielder to the Union’s cause, meaning the fullbacks should not have needed to step into those high gaps.

3. Stephen Vitoria: Playing next to Maurice Edu has led Vitoria to develop a curious new trait: He goes on walkabout. A lot. Stepping up to win a header is one thing, but straying 40 yards from goal severely strains the Union’s defensive organization. Vitoria lacks the pace to race forward and win many challenges on the ground, as was the case in this instance. Charlie Davies holds Vitoria off and springs Fagundez up the wing, leaving the Union stretched and the big center half exposed. If ever there was a time for one of Vitoria’s scything, ball-and-all tackles, this was it. A yellow card and a flattened Davies would have been far preferable to watching from the ground as Fagundez tore away with a head of steam. These minor chase scenes are extremely bad news because the result is that Vitoria cannot recover and get back into the box to help scramble clear at the back end of a play. Once he loses out, the play is over for him.

Vitoria was about 25 yards from his own goal when Bunbury got the final touch on the winner. And this is no new phenomenon: Edu and Sheanon Williams were frequently dragged across their own box in both NYCFC matches while Vitoria chased Adam Nemec into midfield. As a result, New York’s wide runners, usually Ned Grabavoy, were left in acres of space. Before the New England match, Philly had not been directly punished for Vitoria’s roaming. The Bunbury goal should lead to more discipline in a back line that has otherwise been difficult to break down when the roles are kept simple.

4. Brian Carroll: It is not until after Wenger fails to play the ball, Gaddis loses out to Fagundez, and Vitoria fails to make a play on Davies, that Carroll springs into action. After being within 5 yards of all three challenges and remaining uninvolved, Carroll finally sets off down the field, trailing the play and watching, frustrated, as the ball hit the back of the net.

5. Michael Lahoud: With two defenders ahead of him, Lahoud suddenly finds himself as the de facto left back for the play. Chasing Fagundez down the flank, he waits for the young Uruguayan to shape for his cross and then…runs away. From the replay, Lahoud appears to be just wide of his own 18 yard box when Fagundez prepares to launch his cross. Yet, when ball leaves his foot, Lahoud is nearly 5 yards inside his box, making sure that Fagundez has both the time and angles to pick out whatever cross he wanted.

It is simply the play of a defensive midfielder, as Lahoud has shepherded Fagundez wide enough to force a cross. However, the decision to back off now appears symbolic of Philadelphia’s final thirty minutes: So focused on protecting the goal that they forgot to play soccer.

6. Sheanon Williams: And once the ball is hooked in, it is only a matter of whether Teal Bunbury can hit a gaping net, because the Revs winger set Williams up before Fagundez had received the ball on the wing. Starting over Williams’ left shoulder, Bunbury darted behind and used his fresh legs to both get across the fullback’s body and race inside of him to meet the cross. In a glaring case of a fresh attacker blowing past an exhausted defender, Williams is beaten early. As with Vitoria, a little more awareness could have led to a body block or tug of the shirt. Williams certainly isn’t shy about collecting yellow cards (he got his caution later, in the 90th minute) and the Union could have breathed a sigh of relief and a still had a chance to continue the fight on level terms. In the end, it was a foot race that Williams was never going to win, yet by putting his head down to sprint back, he gave up any chance of getting a body on Bunbury and finding another, more cynical, way to put him off his line.

As with Lahoud, this appears to be a case of Philly players becoming so focused on simply keeping the ball out of the net that they forgot to do the little things that often act as goal preventatives. As has been said before, nobody can question this team’s effort. Instead, the questions come in the small facets of the game, where the Union don’t body a defender off his running because they are so worried about how close the ball is to goal.

This is analogous to basketball players forgetting to box out because they are watching the shot and thinking about how much they don’t want it to go in. Again, very solvable issues that likely result more from a desire to work hard and get results than from any lack of ability or skill.

7. John McCarthy: Once the ball came off Fagundez’s foot, Bunbury is the only player who is going to get to it, yet the Union goalkeeper plays the ball as if he could dive to his right and claim it as an unchallenged cross. Given the point blank nature of the shot, the young goalie would have needed to call upon the spectacular to stop it. By essentially running away from the play, however, McCarthy allows Bunbury the easiest of finishes, to simply touch the ball into an empty/vacated net.

Subs, deep shells, and possession problems

But why was Philly sitting so deep to begin with? Much can be made of the double switch that removed Sapong and Maidana on 63 minutes, but with such a thin, tired, and injured roster, Curtin was left with few options.

Perhaps he could have brought on Ethan White and pushed an emotive, clearly frustrated, Edu into midfield where he might have organized his side into a resilient defensive wall. But Edu’s success in the back line has been one of the few positives the Union can draw from a dour start to the campaign. Quite simply, the captain has made each member of the back line better.

Regardless of which players were on and off the field, a larger issue exists for Philadelphia: They cannot keep the ball. Whether it is Brian Carroll or White, Wenger or Le Toux, Gaddis or Williams, the Union are lacking in technicians. Counterattacking soccer can be a deadly weapon, but it cannot be the only weapon for a team that wants to challenge for playoff position.

The Union have grown too content winning the ball and booting it upfield. Simply living to fight another day has become de rigeur, even though that day often turns into the next opposition attack. The Revs were only the latest team to fall on the Union in wave after wave of turnover-aided attack as a match wore on.

Though possession has rightly been called an overrated statistic in recent years, overrated and worthless are far different concepts. As the Union are learning, without the ball there can be no rest against a motivated attack (even a subpar one). Even while the ball is still in the air, flying downfield on any number of hoofed clearances, the defense must reset itself, bracing for another attack in full knowledge that the ball has likely already been conceded. And while sitting deep in an organized shell can be an effective means to see out a game, the level of planning and communication it requires has not yet been evident in the 2015 Union. Whether it is Gaddis cheating off his wing to chase down Lee Nguyen, Vitoria leaving his post to try and make challenges high up the field, or defensive midfielders failing to fall in and support where needed, the discipline required to shut up shop and deny an opposing team for long stretches has simply not been there.

Adding Edu to the backline has certainly helped, but with Vincent Nogueira in and out of the lineup, and Lahoud doing everything in his power just to stay above water, the Union’s  defensive shell rarely looks impenetrable.

Having been breached a league leading 13 times (Toronto is the only team to give up more goals/game, with three matches in hand on the Union), it is time for a rethink. Against Columbus this Saturday, one goal can no longer be the goal. Winning games 1-0 is not going to happen. If the Union can pull a goal ahead on the weekend, they need to keep going until they double, or triple their advantage. A great offense may just be this team’s best chance at a good defense.

Sebastien Le Toux: Space hoarder

Time to dust one off from 2012.

Rotating attacking players can do more harm than good.

This is a fact that the Union have demonstrated throughout their history. Rather than sending waves of confusion rippling through a defensive unit, the Philly’s minute-by-minute player swapping along the front line has, more often, only served to sever lines of communication and erode team chemistry.

And despite that historical precedent, rotation has returned to the Union’s play. With their current roster, this is simply unnecessary. The reasons already listed should be enough, but they are exacerbated now because, for the first time in their 5-plus year history, the Union have a legitimate striker leading their line. Fernando Aristeguieta has proven his ability to do pretty much everything Curtin could have wanted out of a center forward. With three goals through seven games — and inches away from a brace on Sunday — he continues to pop up in dangerous spots and put his chances on target.

Yet, increasingly, Aristeguieta has found himself crowded out of his preferred central channel by Sebastien Le Toux. Seemingly unimpressed with his deployment on the right flank, the Frenchman has taken to wandering the field. Like a new driver making constant course corrections that eventually lead to the center of the road, Le Toux spent Sunday swapping flanks. Yet while Sapong worked hard to get near the touchlines, Le Toux never got anywhere near the chalk, consistently meandering back to center of the pitch. And when, for extended periods, Le Toux took up residence between the centerbacks, it was Aristeguieta who was flushed out to the flanks to make runs and crosses, the last place his coach will likely want to see his best goal threat.

For Curtin to get the most out of his team, he needs to find a way to convince his wingers to run off of Aristeguieta. Through eight games, the hold up play and distribution have been exemplary. Yet, whether it is Le Toux’s lack of positional discipline, or Wenger’s indifference toward off-the-ball runs, the rest of the front line has failed to bond with Aristeguieta. Given that not a single goal has been scored by a player operating out of a wide position this season (you came close, Eric), the Union would do well to spend the week focusing on improving in the outer thirds of the field instead of consistently taking away the space of the only attacker who looks like he knows what to do in the box.

Player Ratings

John McCarthy – 4

Showed an excellent pair of hands under the high ball, especially in traffic. However, his distribution remains a major issue, with Union fans preferring the clearances booted directly out of the bounds to the mishit balls directly to the Revs. His footwork on both goals leaves some question marks, though it is hard to imagine either being saved with his, or anyone else’s, best efforts.

Sheanon Williams – 3

After doing well to keep Juan Agudelo subdued for the first half, he looked low on fuel and was directly involved in both Revs goals. His part in the second is documented above, on the first he appeared to try and play Davies offside, though a communication failure left the striker both onside and with the simplest of tap-ins.

Maurice Edu – 7

Strong and confident on the ball. Matched Jermaine Jones play-for-play as each won battle-after-battle for their sides. Unlike Jones, however, Edu did not have willing runners checking back to him and trying to find passing lanes. Thus, a lot of his effort came to nothing.

Stephen Vitoria – 7

Perhaps his strongest match in a Union shirt, Vitoria did well to read the ball in the air, even moving well laterally to snuff out aerial threats. Additionally, he was his tidiest on the ball against New England, finding his outlets well. Still prone to the occasional moment of indecision, with a handful of clearances returned to the Revs in the center of the park serving as proof.

Ray Gaddis – 3

Continues to show poor discipline when it comes to his positioning and footwork. As mentioned above, he strayed from his post too easily, leaving space behind. His over-reliance on his recovery speed has become an issue, with the pacy fullback losing too many challenges and foot races early in 2015.

Michael Lahoud – 5

Lahoud is what he is going to be at this point. Wins the balls that he can get to and plays simple passes with reasonable accuracy. This efficiency is certainly appreciated in a team where consistent passers are few and far between, even if his passing range is limited. For all of those good traits, Lahoud still hasn’t shown that he can take it to the level where he can boss a midfield, shut down a playmaker, make the critical tackle, or execute a must-have probing pass (or shot).

Zach Pfeffer – 4

Defensively tenacious and eager to mix it up in midfield, Pfeffer worked hard to prove that he could handle the hard work required of a box-to-box midfielder. Unfortunately, when his side had the ball, he faded in and out of the match far too frequently. Twenty-four attempted passes over a little more than 80 minutes of play won’t cut it in midfield, regardless of the style the Union choose to play.

Sebastien Le Toux – 3

When he defends, he seems to just be running, outside of a team shape or defensive system. More often of late, Le Toux gravitates towards the center of the park, evicting any teammate that has already taken up residence in that spot. Were he finishing chances, this would be somewhat acceptable, but with 0 goals and only 4 shots on target through 8 starts, he needs to find new methods of getting offensively involved.

Chaco Maidana – 6

It’s impossible to take a free kick any better than Maidana did, and it was critical for the Union to make something of the good chances they had carved out in the first half. However, with Pfeffer in serious need of assistance as he learned the box-to-box role on the fly, Maidana did him no favors. The Union are certainly a better team with Chaco on the field, running the attack, but in a match where he completed only 57 percent of a limited number of touches (19 of 33), defensive work rate and team shape were of dire importance to help his team overcome an energetic Revs squad. In that respect, Maidana came up small.

CJ Sapong – 5

This is a 5 that could easily be much higher if Sapong had made the most of his opportunities. Yes, the header he smashed off his hand was already offside, but with his pace and leaping ability, there is no reason for him not to put the ball in the net, or at least on frame.

Fernando Aristeguieta – 6

Is it time to start talking about conspiracy theories when it comes to why Aristeguieta cannot get a foul, despite the near constant clutching, grabbing and rough treatment he is forced to endure? No matter how many defenders are on his back though, Aristeguieta continues to put chances on target and always looks capable of making something in the opponent’s box.


Brian Carroll – 3

With a half hour to play when he came on, Curtin was looking for Carroll to help organize the midfield and add extra support to assist his fullbacks and Lahoud. This simply did not happen, as Carroll stuck to what has become his new norm: sitting too deep and failing to engage aggressively enough when needed.

Andrew Wenger – 2

Generally, the best way to get through a slump is to work harder, using pure hustle to overcome decision-making issues. Unfortunately for the Union, Wenger’s removal from the starting lineup failed to light any sort of a fire under him, and he was just as lethargic off the bench as he has been when starting.

Conor Casey – N/A

Despite playing 15 minutes during a time in which a goal was mandatory for the Union, Casey had no effect on the match. Instead, he looked more interested in taking late, unnecessary shots at defenders.

Geiger Counter

Mark Geiger – 4

Geiger has the rarest of refereeing skills. He can get almost every call technically correct, while simultaneously leaving every single person in a stadium incensed, regardless of which team they support. For a referee who clearly has such a high level of knowledge to behave in such an aggressive, confrontational manner borders on the absurd.

Preferred Starting XI for Saturday’s match at Columbus Crew


Blake; Williams, Edu, Vitoria, Gaddis; Lahoud, Nogueira; Ayuk, Maidana, Sapong; Aristeguieta


  1. this preferred starting XI is better than any lineup we have put out so far. Here’s hoping this happens.

    • pragmatist says:

      As long as they have their legs under them, that is a potent lineup.

      I still believe the team looked very good in the first half and could easily have been up 3-0 at the break. But they couldn’t finish (tell me if you’ve heard that before).
      Get the aggressive and useful players out there (this suggested lineup) and hope they can start finding the back of the net.

  2. meh, Geiger wasn’t that bad

    • Like Eli noted, Geiger gets the calls right, yet somehow still manages to piss off everybody. His summary is the best description I have read of the paradox that is The Geiger Show.

    • +1
      Geiger was at the World Cup and was perhaps one of the better refs in Brazil for that tournament. It’s easy to blame refs in first few games (quite a few bad calls), but not this one. Calls did not lose this game. Ownership (lack of investment), tactics/lack of depth (had to sub gassed players), and mistakes collectively lost this game.

      • Atomic Spartan says:

        Agreed, Geiger was not a contributing factor to the loss.
        That said, while he seems to do well at Stade Azteca and the WC, he has a tendency to uglify games at PPL and the Flying Bedpan, thus sucking much of the enjoyment out of watching the game, unless you enjoy watching somebody make a hash of things. Biggest cases in point: he allowed Davies to jump into each of Sheanon’s throws, arguably not respecting required distance. Then MG twice insisted on moving Union throwins to precise points (one of the most worthless wastes of time and fluidity in any game). Then he lets opposing payers stand in front of the ball on restarts, again preventing flow and possible offensive advantage. This last tactic, which technically speaking is worthy of a yellow card, is endemic to MLS, and Geiger fell for it without so much as a verbal warning.
        Again, not a factor in our loss, because the Boys in Blue did more than enough to lose this one on their own. It’s just irritating to watch a good ref behave this way.

      • Frankly, if a player wants to jump like that Williams should throw the ball into his face.

      • Atomic Spartan says:

        Maybe, but then MG would probably card sheanon instead

  3. All I want to say, is HOW MANY FUCKING TIMES are we going to use Carrol as a defensive presence (either as a starter and sub) and see him get run by in the midfield?

    Christ is annoying.

    • Not that I love Carroll, but I thought he and Lahoud did a decent job for 90 minutes in KC.

      Granted they forgot to keep playing in stoppage time….

      • Yes, they really were both excellent in the KC game, despite the debacle finale.

      • The Black Hand says:

        They did the job.
        On the plus side, they muddied the middle and prevented a cohesive attack (opposing).
        In the minus column, they muddied the middle and prevented a cohesive attack (us).

      • True

  4. I know this is going to sound like I’m making excuses for poor performances, but I don’t recall seeing anyone else mention it and I think it’s worth pointing out. In what universe does it seem fair for a team on two days’ rest to play a team on seven days’ rest?
    Did we deserve to lose against New England? Sure. Too many guys made mistakes in the second half. However, in a game where tired fullbacks, early substitutions and a lack of Vincent Nogueira had a clear impact, does it really surprise anyone that Teal Bunbury and Diego Fagundez had a good 20-30 minute performance after doing not much more than Pilates since last Saturday?

    • Agree, Joe. It was definitely a factor. Yes, a pro should be able to go in three days, but NE. had the advantage of the time off. Might have helped them a little bit in outrunning the Union’s back line.

      Aristeguieta looks a little gassed to me lately, too. He’s not as sharp as he was to start the season , though it doesn’t help that a defender is hanging around his neck every time he gets a sniff of the penalty box.

      • I have no problem believing a pro athlete could gut out a good performance after two rest days. The problem is expecting a team of 11 starters and preferred 3 subs to be perfectly healthy in that amount of time. Even if they played NYCFC Wednesday night instead of Thursday, Curtin could have squeezed another 5-10 minutes out of Maidana and Sapong, Nogueira’s ankle might have been good enought to have him come on late, and Ayuk could have given us a shift.
        I still think we shot ourselves in the foot with the lineup decisions. If Maidana couldn’t go the full 90 and Nogueira wasn’t available, then Carroll should have been on from the beginning and Pfeffer should have come on late. Ethan White could have started or subbed in and we could have taken advantage of a white-hot Edu in the midfield. Regardless, the MLS schedule-makers did us no favors this week.
        I didn’t get to see NYCFC-Portland Sunday night, but I’m willing to bet they weren’t happy with the scheduling either.

      • I’d rather have seen Ethan White come in to replace Le Toux than take Edu off the back line (that’s sarcasm, in case anyone misses it). White was very scary in his CB starts. I want Edu back there, especially with a rookie in goal. He’s been the most consistent quality player for the Union since day one of the season. Especially at CB.

        Maybe it would have been better to get Maidana in for the last 45 than the first. I think he’s absolutely crucial for this team. They play 200% better with him on the pitch than off.

    • +1. Totally agree with this…

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Joe, it has been mentioned before. Now that there are an even number of teams in the league, there is no reason not to have an EPL like schedule where everyone plays within 2 days of each other, excepting cases like working around CCL finals.

      • If teams have to play mid-week games, then make sure their weekend opponents also have midweek games. Is that so hard? The only two teams to play two games this week were us and NYCFC. Wouldn’t it make sense to have New England host Portland mid-week to make it fair to all 4 teams?

      • Except then you’re making Portland fly cross-country for a mid-week game.
        I’ve said before: mid-week games should be “rivalry” type games. Games against teams from your own conference, preferably one you really care about. Philly – NYCFC is a perfectly fine example. But I don’t think it’s fair to ask a team to make a cross-country flight for a mid-week game.

    • +1 more. Of course the Union had significant trouble in this game, and I basically agree with Eli’s ratings above. But think about it: who on this team was asked to go 90 minutes for the 3rd time in 9 days at a position in which you run around a whole lot? Answer: Gaddis, Williams, Lahoud, and Le Toux. So is it any surprise that, against a tough team with a potent offensive, bringing in a strong sub, in the second half, Gaddis and Williams were the ones to break down in the end?

      Yes, we have problems, but I for the most part I would not take this particular match as evidence of much. The biggest concern I have is that Curtin substituted Carroll for Maidana. I know Chaco couldn’t go 90, but that game needed Eric Ayuk’s energy.

      • pragmatist says:

        +1…to all of that.

        And at some point, they need to find a way to get 90 minutes out of Chaco on a weekly basis. Everyone else can do it, barring injury. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to.

    • Atomic Spartan says:


  5. i’d really like to echo what you said about aristeguieta not getting any fouls called. i’ve never seen anything like it. people are draped all over him like a wet blanket for every damn play and he cannot get a call. its unbelievable


    HOW MANY TIMES ARE WE GOIGN TO DELUSION OURSELVES? Are we REALLY surprised about any of these things?

    “Continues to show poor discipline when it comes to his positioning and footwork. ”
    – We surprised? Really? The 5th round draft pick whose sole good traits were his “speed” and “tenacity” is being exposed as not having the underlying understanding to play soccer consistently at a high level. Wow, that has NEVER been in the case in American soccer before!

    “Andrew Wenger – 2”
    – I’m still flabbergasted so many people jumped on the bandwagon of this bust after 3-4 good games at winger. Are we really surprised that the 22 year old who entered the draft WITHOUT A POSITION and was invisible in Montreal is proving to be marginal at best? Why do we do this to ourselves?

    “Seemingly unimpressed with his deployment on the right flank, the Frenchman has taken to wandering the field.”
    – I may still be crucified for this, but we gotta see this coming. We can never forget his contributions, but even in his best of days he was a “he never stops running!” player first. And when he was the best player on bad teams, he will get stats. When teams give him acres of space, he can make things happen.

    Problem is, teams that want playoffs are of a higher standard. They need quality. And Le Toux doesn’t have much of it. Stone touch, and as we see more and more often, 0 understanding of what to do on the soccer field. Once teams take away his ability to run free into space, he is a black hole.


  7. Every time these games come down to individual match-ups, as they often due in the second half, the Union loses.

    It’s a fun exercise to play Monday morning coach, and focus on this substitution or that tactical formation, but the reality is that these players are just not good enough.

    Look around the league and tell me how many of our players would start on other teams. After Edu it is not at all obvious that we have any that people would want as starters.

    • I have Edu, Nogs, Maidana, Sapong, Nando, Gaddis and Williams as starters on many MLS teams.

      I still feel like this team is underperforming somehow. The back line with Edu should be good. The midfield should be much better.

      Maidana and Nogs being in and out of the lineup has not been helpful. Wenger and Le Toux have been killing us on the wings. The only thing thy seem to be good at is running a lot.

      The team has had flashes of competency but they dissolve quickly into ineptitude. That’s what’s frustrating. I think they should be better.

  8. They were thin because they loaned out Cruz, MacMath, Fernandes, Catic, Marquez, McLaughlin, and Hopennot. That is on Curtain and his poor management/player decisions…

    • Call me crazy … but I don’t think Cruz or Fernandes or Hop are going to change any games at the level of MLS

      • The Black Hand says:

        Cruz coming on would have pinned the Rev fullback, as well as given us fast legs to counter with. Wenger did none of that.

      • At this point, with Ayuk’s strong performances, I’m not regretting Curtin loaning out Cruz. We have the players on the bench, but for some reason Curtin opted not to sub in Ayuk. In either case, that’s on Curtin.

      • The Black Hand says:

        But, can Ayuk play on the left?

      • I’d venture a guess that he’d be just as effective there as Cruz was. Ayuk’s offensive work rate is just as good as Cruz’s, and his defensive work rate is better. He’s more technically gifted, younger, and stays on his feet more than Cruz ever did. He’s a better player overall, with a much higher potential. Not saying he’s the future of this franchise or anything, but he’s more likely to have that level of impact in the future than Cruz.

      • I won’t call you crazy, because I generally agree with your take on the other two players, but I think Leo F. has the potential to be a good MLS player.

      • I think it’s crazy to complain about having a thin roster when the roster the coach has built includes so many players that either a) are not MLS-quality players or b) are loaned out and unable to play in MLS games

      • Fernandes seems to be having a good year for the Cosmos and to say Cruz isn’t going to change a game in MLS is crazy. Their is a reason the guy has something like 150 games in MLS and while most of our fans don’t seem to give the guy any credit, I am sure he smiled his way out of a year with a shitty team and fans that love ayuk because he does four front flips but is on the ground as often as Cruz was.

        At this point I think we need to throw on the young guns, Hoppenot, Mclaughlin, Blake, and give them serious minutes, it cannot get any worse. Can it?

      • ” on the ground as often as Cruz was.”
        If you truly think that then you haven’t been watching. Cruz would go down at the slightest contact. Ayuk is showing to be a very physical player who will try to stay on his as long as possible. Not saying Ayuk is the future of this franchise or anything, but he’s just as good if not better than Cruz, younger and with more potential, but at a lower salary. Having both Ayuk and Cruz would be redundant, even more so when you add Hoppenot to the mix. All in all, I think loaning out Cruz was the only correct Moneyball move this club has made since claiming it as a philosophy.

      • 1 shot on target against NYCFC in Tie
        0 shots on or off target against KC
        0 successful or unsuccessful crosses or key passes in KC
        0 successful or unsuccesful cross or key passes against NYCFC in tie
        0 successful cross 1 unsuccessful 0 key pass in win against NYCFC
        1 shot off target in win vs NYCFC
        The kid has contributed very little offensively in his three games starting, he does some step overs and some flips and people love him. The truth is, he has contributed little to nothing on the offensive side of the ball and as a winger that is not good at all.

      • Stats don’t tell the whole story, especially when the sample time is only 225 minutes. You also seem to be forgetting his GOAL, which was only not counted as his because it hit pfeffer (Pfeffer knew nothing about it) in the back of his leg before going into goal (would have been a goal regardless. In fact, it almost wasn’t a goal because it hit Pfeffer). If you want to use stats as a guide, wait til the end of the season to do so, when you can actually get some statistically significant data. I bet when significant data is available, you’ll see your stats show Ayuk is better as well.

  9. (Not the Rob from above)
    I’d challenge the ratings for Edu and Vittoria as being too high for one reason. Not their play, which was good, but their communication and coordination. Simply put, they didn’t talk enough. When they did talk, they both wanted to be in charge. They need to figure that out quickly.
    I knew we were doomed in the second half when they gave away possession and essentially stopped playing defense. When the ball is on our goal line, and Williams is at the half-field mark walking walking back, there is a problem. I would have hoped they learned from the NYCFC game that when you give the opponent the ball so much, bad things will happen.
    I also knew we were in trouble when I looked down at the subs warming up below me. It was very much a “cupboard is bare” feeling looking at Carrol, White, and Casey running around. I said to my brother that this was the first game I missed Danny Cruz. We needed someone to make a run. Not that he’d make a great decision at the end of the run, but he would make a run.
    They need to consolidate their feces post-haste. Otherwise, I’m certain the coaching carousel will spin once again.

  10. I thought McCarthy should have done better on the second goal. It looked like he had no idea Bunbury was coming for that ball.

    • The Black Hand says:

      McCarthy was poor on each goal. Would he have stopped them? Most likely not, but his reactions were missing. He watched them. He had no business being in that match. He is not ready, yet (much like MacMath). Curtin should have known that!

      • I agree with this. I understand he’s not solely responsible for those goals, but he looked completely frozen. I think Blake or MacMath just might have gotten a lucky block on one of those. Maybe not, but he has not looked great when really tested. (And that’s OK. He’s 22)

      • The Black Hand says:

        I believe that Andre Blake stops one, if not both, of those. He is an extremely athletic keeper, with a very wide wing-span.
        None of those, savable, goals are McCarthy’s fault. He shouldn’t have been in there. We got everything out of that kid, in the back to back NYCFC’s.
        Young players need to be eased into their roles…not expected to carry a club on their back.

  11. The Black Hand says:

    Nice work, Eli. I can’t really argue with any of this…I want to…

    • The Black Hand says:

      Who am I kidding? I’m in for some debate. Mo Edu needs to be included in the list of players, that need to wear that goal. What exactly was he doing? Unmarked Revs were close by (he saw that Sheanon was toasted), yet he remained yards away from a player. Was he looking to intercept the pass?

      • Agree. Edu was in a position to clear the ball by attacking it. Instead he was ball watching and stood still while the Rev player attacked the ball and scored.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Clear…mark…destroy…Mo was in position, to do a lot more than he did.

  12. I get the 3 games in 8 days thing being a huge ask. But as a more overarching question – what’s with the general health of this team? We seem to have an unusually high frequency of smaller, nagging injuries. Maybe I’m crazy, but it seems unusual this early in the season. Am I wrong? And if I’m right, is that a conditioning issue? Overwork in training? Just bad luck?

    • The Black Hand says:

      This club has looked poorly-conditioned, from the get-go. No excuse for that…another red flag…
      Another interesting question about training; Do these players train together?

    • neck label says:

      “overwork in training” is how i saw chacos injury.
      curtin starts the season opener with chaco riding pine. (?). the following week chaco gets hurt in training. he hasnt been fully fit since.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Lack of heavy-conditioning, is what I see. The first week + should have been 100% conditioning…the type that makes you puke.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Novak did that in the 1st season.

      • The Black Hand says:

        That monster!!!
        I believe that you need to have players hit the wall early, endurance-wise. Conditioning is A#1 in this game. I remember a Scottish coach had me run up and down a hill with another player on my back…endless times. That was day 4. Run them hard, right off the bat! A PROFESSIONAL manager has no excuse for poorly-conditioned players.

    • pragmatist says:

      Maybe they can call Chip Kelly…get some of them fancy “sports science” guys to come over!

    • I’ll stick my neck out here…

      One thing that Nowak did well was rotate players to prevent them from being overworked and accumulating injuries. And unlike Hackworth, Nowak rotated players to there actually positions, like rotating Mapp, Marfan, Garfan, Keon, Okugo, Nakazawa, Adu, Torres, Carroll, and Miglioranzi through in 2011. That’s 10 midfielders who played between 11 and 30 games each, and it let players get rest when the team had 3 games in 9 days…

    • Sam Philly says:

      Lol overworked in training?
      Nowak was fired for denying the players water for some small period of time during practice (or at least that’s the official FO excuse. Personally, I think he was just the FO’s scapegoat for unloading the high-salaried players, and we the fans were more ignorant at the time regarding the FO’s financial ineptitude). I went whole 3 hour long football practices at age 14 with no water, in the dead heat of summer in all pads. These guys are supposed to be professionals, but they don’t seem to want to put in the work that high school children do. They might have gotten the practice facility, but it seems that they’re conditioning regimen is still amateur. Hell, Gaddis’ recent performances suggest this team has actually been a detriment to his conditioning level. It might seem cold, but we need a manager who treats these players like employees, not friends. That’d be real “Philly Tough.”

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Hey, Sam, your coach would get fired today if he did that now. This generation of parents is different.

      • Sam Philly says:

        He was fired a couple years later. When he was fired was when our team started to suck, and consequently when I quit the team–not because of harsh practice conditions, but because the new coach and the players stopped taking the sport seriously, so why bother?
        That’s where the Union is now. Few players on this team take themselves seriously, and it’s starting to drag down the players who do. You can see it on Nogs’ face, his WTF face, arms up in frustration, every time he’s lacking any sort of outlet in the middle of the pitch: ‘Why am I the only one putting out any sort of professional effort.’ Good thing we have Aristegueita this year. He seems to have his priorities straight.

      • Jim Presti says:

        I’m in my early 20’s and the conditioning for wrestling was brutal. Try run stairs in a 90 degree 4 story stairwell in trashbags, sweats, thermal gear, and hats for a half hour. Then sprints up the same steps for 10 minutes and then carrying a partner up the same steps for another 15. No water breaks. No fresh air. That was at age 14. These are professional athletes. No excuses.

  13. Love the kid – but he shares some fault on the first goal. He has to come out and punch away the cross. It’s not all his fault by any means but just proves my point that he’s not going to steal any points for us. He’s an upgrade over Mbohli to be sure (not saying a lot) but Blake has to be the man moving forward.

    • Yes, this. McCarthy is not primarily to blame for either of the goals. But he ain’t saving us points. By all accounts Blake has much more upside and should hopefully be starting next week.

      • agreed on blake. i’m hoping he starts and fulfills his potential even if that means he moves on next year to greener pastures. i like the idea of mccarthy sticking around and getting the skill to challenge blake (or whoever) for a spot through sheer force of will and dedication

  14. Week in and week out, the player ratings are the best post on this site. I learn something new every week in the article and in the comments, as we, the Cliff Dwellers, have had 48 hrs to cool off and can discuss somewhat rationally what has taken place.
    Thanks to all the writers – Eli, Adam & Peter – for your work on this feature.

    Now, off to work on my plan to use cookies to fuel a rocket to the sun for Fabinho and Wenger….

  15. Brendan May says:

    Sheanon Williams has been caught watching on the last three out of four goals against us. That he left David Villa, of all people, unattended on the goal at home is unacceptable. Ever since his injury issues from early last season, he’s seemed to be a step slow and looks to be carrying some extra weight. For his long throws that have yielded nothing of late, he always walks up like he’s a 50 year old man playing rec league. He either needs a fitness regime or a fire under him. He’s been the weakest link on the back line for some time.

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